Nature and its ecosystem services are at the center of the hospitality business proposition: from food and beverage offers to guests' enjoyment of natural landscape at a destination. Nature is not only a 'capital' component available to businesses, but a source of solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change and protect biodiversity while ensuring the well-being of staff and guests alike. Nature is a prerequisite for a successful business, however, a 40% drop in natural capital per person has been recoded over the past two decades (Dasgupta, 2021). 'Burning' though this inventory of natural capital without a regeneration plan should result in alarm bells ringing. As the Science-Based Target Networks summarizes: "Nature is the backbone of human well-being and the foundation for all economic activity" (SBTN, 2020, p.2). Considering the value of nature to the hospitality industry and the threat of biodiversity collapse, recording and accounting for natural capital and integrating the outcome into the decision-making processes while setting regeneration targets is crucial. Ahead of the official launch of the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (on World Environment Day, June 5th) by the United Nations, here are a three questions to tackle ((choose one or answer all, sharing of best practices is welcomed):
- Hotels located in urban settings: which nature-based solutions result in value added to guests, staff, owners and community?
- Hotels located in natural settings (e.g. forest, coastline): what actions can be undertaken to maintain or restore the ecosystems?
- Cooperation/Support for greater impact: where can hoteliers obtain help, support or join forces to achieve results
- Dasgupta, P. (2021), The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review, London: HM Treasury.
- SBTN (2020). Science-Based Targets for Nature: Initiatil Guidance for Business. Science Based Tageets Network.
- Tew, N.E., Memmott, J., Vaughan, I.P., Bird, S., Stone, G.N., Potts, S.G., and Baldock, K.C.R. (2021). Quantifying nectar production by flowering plants in urban and rural landscapes. Journal of Ecology, 109(2). https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.13598
Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow this November 2021, a series of breakthroughs can be observed in terms of climate actions. Governments are aligning policies towards a carbon neutral future; advances in solar and wind energy production make them very attractive and cheaper than fossil fuel in many markets; and development of construction techniques make it possible to build high-rises from timber in an increasingly urbanized world. With a building stock of more than 500,000 hotels worldwide (and probably a few million buildings in the broader accommodation sector from vacation rentals to small B&B homes) decarbonization is a major retrofitting endeavor. And nature may be our best ally.
There is no doubt that when considering the value of nature to the hospitality processes however, nature is not only a 'capital' component available to businesses, but a source of solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change and protect biodiversity while ensuring human well-being (Seddon et al., 2020).
I will focus on (1) Hotels located in urban settings: which nature-based solutions result in value added to guests, staff, owners and community?
In the urban built-environment, some cities around globe have tackled urban island heat effect by actively supporting a green cover replacement or green plot ratio for urban construction, with Singapore leading the way. The basic idea is for the land taken away through construction of buildings to be replaced with greenery within the construction, whether via a green rooftop, green intermediary spaces or green walls (Ong, 2002). Hotel buildings such as the Parkroyal Collection Pickering and the Oasia Hotel Downtown, both in Singapore, are examples of green cover replacement in urban setting. Research results show that similar buildings are able to
- reduce the summer heat gain and cooling demand while
- reducing urban heat island effect (Feitosa ad Wilkinson, 2018),
- improving air quality, absorbing pollutants (Charoenkit and Yiemwattana, 2017)
- improving water management (Prodanovic et al., 2017),
- reducing noise pollution (Jang et al., 2015) while
- increasing thermal comfort (Charoenkit and Yiemwattana, 2016).
Hotels can greatly benefit from green walls and green roofing, conserving energy by insulating the building envelope, with data showing that a green wall can reduce the temperature of walls up to 20 Celsius in the summer (Mazzali et al., 2013). In terms of landscaping, low-rise hotel buildings can greatly reduce the summer heat gain and cooling demand by planting deciduous shade trees. Additionally, research shows that urban areas in the UK are a significant source of floral resource diversity for insects with 85% of the nectar source attributed to residential gardens further supporting the importance of greening urban spaces (Tew et al., 2021).
Finally, research points in the direction of consumer demand for more green spaces and nature-based experiences while travelling following the Great Lockdown. And at times of capital constraints, there is growing evidence of the benefits of Nature-based Solutions outweighing the cost of implementation (Seddon et al. 2020).